Royal Caribbean profit forecast tops estimates, shares rise

Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:41am EST

(Reuters) - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) forecast a stronger-than-expected profit for 2014, buoyed by fourth-quarter earnings that comfortably beat Wall Street estimates, as increased bookings in Europe and Asia made up for weakness in the Caribbean.

Shares of the world's second-largest cruise operator rose more than 4 percent in early trading on Monday.

The company said ticket revenue outperformed its expectations due to strong last-minute bookings.

Royal Caribbean's better-than-expected profit mirrors that of market leader Carnival Corp (CCL.N) as the industry works to recover from a protracted period of negative publicity following a spate of mishaps.

Only last week, more than 300 passengers and crew members fell ill aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, forcing the company to cut short a 10-day Caribbean cruise by two days.

The company forecast full-year adjusted earnings of $3.20-$3.40 per share. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $3.17 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income was $7 million, or 3 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended December 31, compared with a loss of $392.8 million, or $1.80 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 23 cents per share. Total revenue rose 2.7 percent to $1.85 billion.

Analysts on average had forecast earnings of 18 cents per share on revenue of $1.85 billion.

Net yields, a measure of ticket sales and money spent on board rose 3.2 percent, excluding currency fluctuations, in the fourth quarter. Net yields are expected to rise 2-3 percent in 2014.

Shares of the company were up 4 percent at $49.01 in early trading on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Chris Peters and Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)